Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Euroa group lauds pokies win

The No Pokies for Euroa group is rapt with a VCAT decision to not grant planning approval for poker machines at the Euroa Hotel.

DARREN LINTON June 30, 2014 3:25am

The No Pokies for Euroa group has won the battle, but maybe not the war.

While it was being hailed as a victory for ‘‘people power’’, Frank Pierce said the group would wait to see if any appeal was lodged against the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision not to grant planning approval.

Mr Pierce, one of several organisers who led the community-based opposition to town’s first electronic gaming machines being installed in the Euroa Hotel said the decision has ramifications for small towns across the state where gaming premises could not be separated from the main commercial centre.

‘‘We’re ecstatic, we think it is a monumental decision for the town,’’ Mr Pierce said yesterday after taking time to reflect on Friday’s decision.

‘‘The wording of the decision put it very succinctly, it is a very compact town and they (VCAT) really can’t separate it.’’

‘‘That is how small country towns are structured and how they operate.’’

While happy with the victory, the No Pokies for Euroa group is not pleased it had to fight Strathbogie Shire as well as the applicant.

Mr Pierce said the group had asked to meet with council to discuss the decision and the community campaign.

‘‘We have asked for a meeting with Strathbogie Shire about this,’’ he said.

‘‘We believe the shire didn’t engage the community.’’

Strathbogie Shire Council approved the redevelopment plan for Euroa Hotel, including 30 poker machines, in November last year, but VCAT overturned that decision because the venue was deemed to be in a strip shopping centre.

Mr Pierce said the group considered it also had a strong case in relation to the social and economic impact on Euroa if pokies were installed.

‘‘For every dollar taken by a poker machine two thirds of it goes out of town, that is $1.4m in Euroa’s case,’’ Mr Pierce said.

He said the group did not accept the argument that pokies were needed to restore and save the hotel.

‘‘We dispute that as well, good pubs that are presented well, have entertainment, have good food will survive,’’ he said.

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